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High school basketball: Girls second round previews
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Buford vs. Crawford County

When: 6 tonight

Where: Roberta

Records: Buford (25-4); Crawford County (24-3)

Seeds: Buford No. 2 Region 6-AA; Crawford County No. 1 Region 5-AA

Coaches: Buford, Gene Durden. Crawford County, Melinda Traylor.

Key players: Buford, PG Andraya Carter (5-8, So.); PF Alysha Rudnik (5-9, Sr.); C Sharesse Williams (5-10, Jr.). Crawford County, SG Alex Wood (5-5, Sr.); C Shae Singleton (5-10, Sr.); SG Kierrah Howard (5-5, Sr.).

Outlook: The Lady Wolves looked like the defending state champions in Round 1 with a convincing 63-43 win over last year’s runner-up, Model. Carter scored 22 points, while Rudnik chipped in 15 to lead Buford to its fourth straight second round appearance. Standing in the Lady Wolves’ way of a trip to the state quarterfinals is Crawford County, which has won 18 games in a row dating back to Jan. 5. The Lady Eagles, who haven’t lost in 2010, are averaging 65 points per game, and scored 101 points against Callaway earlier this year. That’s pretty impressive, especially considering Crawford County went 7-20 last year. The Lady Eagles will have a hard time scoring at will against the Lady Wolves, whose 38 points allowed per game is tied for fourth-best in all of Class AA.

East Hall vs. Stephens County

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Toccoa Records: East Hall (22-6); Stephens County (20-7)

Seeds: East Hall No. 2 Region 7-AAA; Stephens County No. 1 Region 8-AAA

Coaches: East Hall, Joey Rider. Stephens County, Jerry Brown.

Key players: East Hall, PG Jasmine Jenkins (5-8, So.); G/F Morgan Jackson (5-11, So.); G Dorreka Faulkner (5-6, Sr.).
Stephens County, PG Kimberly Major (5-7, Sr.); PF Raven Crawford (5-9, Sr.); SF Tatyana Beasley (5-7, So.).

Outlook: The Lady Vikings make no secret of their intentions. They’re going to apply full-court, high-pressure defense every chance they get, including missed shots and loose balls in the backcourt. It’s a strategy that’s led to 15 wins in the last 17 games, including a 60-47 win over Carrollton last weekend in the first round, in which East Hall forced 30 turnovers — almost one per minute. Now the Lady Vikings are one win away from their first appearance in the quarterfinals since the 2007 state championship season. Standing in the way is Stephens County, the Region 8-AAA champs. The Lady Indians have limped through the end of the regular season, losing three of their last four, before regaining their stride in the region tournament. Since then, Stephens County has ripped off four straight wins, including a 55-36 victory over defending region champ, Franklin County. The Lady Indians depend on the inside-outside combo of Major and Crawford for the bulk of their scoring.

Flowery Branch vs. Columbia

When: 6 tonight

Where: Decatur

Records: Flowery Branch (17-10); Columbia (23-3)

Seeds: Flowery Branch No. 3 Region 7-AAA; Columbia No. 1 Region 5-AAA

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Hazel Hall; Columbia, Chantay Frost

Key players: Flowery Branch, SG Jessica Harper (5-5, Sr.); F Cara Chilton (5-10, So.); G Cash Champion (5-7, Sr.). Columbia, C Akila McDonald (6-4, Sr.); PF/SF Jemimiah Ashby (5-8, Sr.); PG/SG Mecca Frost (5-6, Sr.).

Outlook: After winning just 15 games combined in 2007 and 2008, Columbia’s girls advanced to the Elite Eight last season before falling to eventual Class AAA champion Carrollton in triple overtime. Now ranked No. 5, Columbia is currently on a 17-game winning streak and is led by Central Florida signee McDonald. The Lady Eagles beat Hart County by 36 points in the first round to earn their second straight trip to the state’s round of 16. Flowery Branch enters tonight contest fresh off a 54-37 upset win against the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAA, Southwest Whitfield. Harper led the way for the Lady Falcons in the first round with 24 points, 19 in the second half. Chilton also had a big game with 11 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. Champion chipped in nine points and seven rebounds for Flowery Branch. The Lady Falcons’ big three may need an even more productive night if Flowery Branch hopes to pull off another upset, mainly because they’re contending with more than just a state-ranked team with only three losses on the season. The Lady Eagles average 56 points to Flowery Branch’s 49 and give up only 32 on average to the Lady Falcons 38. Also, the height of Columbia’s inside players will be hard for Flowery Branch to match. The Lady Eagles start two players over 6-foot tall, and the average height of the team’s six inside players is 5-10. Flowery Branch has no players over 6-0 and only two who stand at 5-10.

Gainesville vs. Franklin County

When: 6:30 tonight

Where: Gainesville

Records: Gainesville (16-9); Franklin County (17-10)

Seeds: Gainesville No. 1 Region 7-AAA; Franklin County No. 2 Region 8-AAA

Coaches: Gainesville, Manson Hill; Franklin County, Holly Wilk.

Key players: Gainesville, PF Jaymee Carnes (6-1, Sr.); SG Loren Thomas (5-6, Sr.); SF Mikalyn DeFoor (5-8, Jr.). Franklin County, G Brittney Wiley (5-0, Sr.); SF Shayon Jones (5-6, Sr.); SF Morgan Hart (5-8, Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s second round matchup is indicative of why out-of-region scheduling is so important: It not only gives you a look at a potential state matchup, it also creates rivalries. With most teams seeing state opponents for the first time on film, both Gainesville and Franklin County have an advantage in that they’ve played against each other. Last season, Franklin County beat Gainesville twice. This season, the two teams split with the Lady Lions winning by six points on their homecourt and Gainesville winning by 11 on its homecourt. In the last six years, the two teams have met seven times with the Lady Lions winning four to Gainesville’s three. The Lady Red Elephants’ win on Feb. 10 of this year began a current six-game winning streak that included the team’s third-straight region title. Wake Forest signee Jaymee Carnes has been the catalyst in Gainesville’s late-season run, averaging a double-double inluding a 21-point, 10-rebound effort in the Lady Red Elephants’ 26-point win against Ringgold in the first round. A solid effort by Carnes will be needed tonight as Franklin County is coming off its own 20-point win in the first round — the Lady Lions beat Grady by 22 — and has a clear offensive advantage over Gainesville, scoring 12 more points per game than the 7-AAA champs. Defensively, Gainesville has an advantage as the Lady Red Elephants are giving up eight fewer points per contest than Franklin County.
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